More people have died in traffic crashes on state roads this year than all of last year. With three fatalities reported last week, there have been 365 deaths this year with another month still to go in the calendar year.
That's four more than the 361 recorded in all of 2014, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety said Tuesday.
The office also used the grim statistic to remind motorists to make safe driving a priority, especially with the holidays approaching and winter weather setting in.
Those choices include wearing seat belts, driving sober, obeying the speed limit and paying attention.
“The choices we make on the road affect all of us,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “When someone dies in a crash, dreams are shattered, lives are changed and those left behind feel the effects for a lifetime. Make the choice this holiday season to give your family the gift of paying attention, slowing down, wearing your seat belt and never driving drunk.”
From now through Jan. 2, law enforcement are participating in a DWI crackdown on weekends. One in four are attributed to drunken driving. One in five fatal crashes are a result of motorists speeding or being distracted. About half of motorists killed in vehicle crashes don't wear seat belts, the DPS said.
Of the 365 fatalities this year: 61 motorcyclists (45 last year), 36 pedestrians (16 last year) and 10 bicyclists (five last year).
Over all, motor vehicle deaths have declined over the past decade from a high of 559 in 2005 to a low mark last year of 361. That is a 35 percent decrease in the past 10 years.